Thursday, August 07, 2014

An opening muse on just what is Australian food

Today’s post is really an aide memoire to myself, triggered in part by Monday’s post Monday Morning Forum – Australian native food (and other things).

I am not a natural foodie. While I enjoy cooking when I am doing it for others, I am fairly hopeless at just cooking for myself. I also struggle a little with those who salivate over particular dishes. Sometimes, I just don’t get it.  I struggle a lot, too, with what is called modern Australian cuisine. Too often, it can best be described as a fusion mess. Shows like Masterchef don’t help because they lack any unifying element.

The Wikipedia entry on Australian cuisine is fairly non-descript. It’s useful, but pedestrian. An outside reader would be forgiven at the end for failing to grasp just what Australian cuisine is.

I really enjoyed my visit to the Uralla Food and Wine Fair, Tastes of New England - A day at the Uralla Food and Wine Fair, but I would also ask what was distinctive there. What distinguished it apart from the fact that it was all local produce? If you go to any local or regional food or wine fair you will find a broadly similar product mix.

There is nothing necessarily wrong with that. It is driven by popular tastes and the availability of local ingredients. Yet, to my mind, the sameness is a problem. Mind you, perhaps that sameness is itself an answer to the conundrum that is exercising my mind. Does the sameness indicate what Australian cuisine truly is? If so, then we can say that it involves olives, wine and beer and various type of pates, cheeses and dips. These seem to be common elements at all the food and wine shows.

I said that this post was really an aide memoire to myself.  I am just laying the base for an idea at the back of my mind.


Anonymous said...

Jim, all this cogitating about "native food" and "Australian food": are you sure this is not just your sublimating that nasty streak of New England populist nationalism? In other words, it may be code for something more sinister.

Finding it improper (within your better self) to talk of keeping out foreigners, and (possibly) rejecting multiculturalism, are you instead seeking a sort of "safety valve" in a discussion of plants - maintaining purity against invasive species, exhorting the virtues of native plants, etc.? A sort of anti-multi-horticulturalism creeping in to your continuing search for a defining New England identity?

Well I say get a grip, before you are fully lost to us. Relax and have a camel pie.


Jim Belshaw said...

A few years, ago, kvd I first learned about feral olives. With no natural predators, they have (like triffids)been sneaking away from the contained locations, spreading out into the broader plant community.

I am not opposed to all introduced species. Some of my favourite plants come from Europe and have become a natural part of the New England environment. But where do we draw the line/

Thank you for your offer of a camel pie, although I don't think that you mean this one - Is this more what you had in mind?